When nordic combined changed the competition format to consist of one jump and a 10K cross-country course, it was a revolution for the sport. For the upcoming season, the NoCo circuit may see another round of changes.
Based on the cross-country team sprint, nordic combined is considering their own sprint version, which could be included in the World Cup schedule next season. The race concept was tested on the continental cup in Kuopio (FIN) last winter, and received positive feedback. Starting next season on the World Cup and later in major championships, the nordic combined team sprint could replace one of the existing team events in nordic combined, but no firm launch date is announced yet. Currently, cross-country team sprints consist of two skiers racing six laps on courses that are approximately 1.5K. A similar model would be used in nordic combined, where the skiers would also do one jump each.
The FIS sub-committee to the Nordic Combined Committee met in Zürich (SUI). The team sprint was only one of the items on the agenda. There was a whole list of other ideas on the table as well. During the final competition in Holmenkollen, the committee members were discussing the possibility of doing a “classic” nordic combined competition with two jumps and a 15k cross-country course. Only the top 30 athletes on the World Cup would be qualified to enter this final competition.
No judges, no correction for wind and no street factor – only the length of the jump would matter. This could be the reality if a new competition format is approved. The format would be a ”penalty race,” where the racers would ski penalty laps on the cross-country course depending on how far they jumped on the hill. The idea is that the cross-country portion is a mass start, and that the skiers will complete their penalty laps as they go. The details are still in the works, but the concept is expected to become a formal proposal by June. The intention is to include some competitions this coming season.
“There is a lot of exciting things happening, and we are going to be a more attractive sport. The feedback we are getting is that all the events in nordic combined are getting too much alike. But these new ideas could be a breath of fresh air in the sport. They will introduce more drama and action on the course, and we want to stay current,” said Lasse Ottesen (NOR), the new FIS coordinator for nordic combined.
Arne-Olaf Sween, a Norwegian member of the FIS nordic combined sub-committee, was in Zürich. He is excited about the ideas that are stirring in the nordic combined community.
“Provisional round, the day before the jumping competition, will also be the qualifier for the races. The suggestion is that the top 10 on the World Cup are prequalified for the competitions, but that there is a cap of no more than 50 racers. So far, the provisional round has served as the basis for the cross-country if it is not possible to complete the jumping on the day of the competition,” Sween explained.
“The race schedule for next season also looks a lot better. There are 30 World Cup competitions total, but some weekends are still not nailed. Those will be determined at the June meeting,” he said.
The COC will start with six competitions in the US, while the final is in Høydalsmo, Norway. Nordic combined will also start using the new BMI regulations adopted by jumping.
There is also a suggestion on the table that the top three in the World Cup would get more money, while those farther down on the list would get less. The new suggestion is 8,000 Swiss Francs for the winner, 6,000 Swiss Francs for second place and 4,000 Swiss Francs for third place. For the 2010-11 season, the winner earned 5,000 Swiss Francs, second place got 4,000 Swiss Francs and third place got 3,000 Swiss Francs.
With Lasse Ottesen stepping in as the new nordic combined coordinator on May 1, Ulrich Wehling will be the chair of the jury in World Cup competitions. For the 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme (ITA), Arne-Olaf Sween is named the technical delegate, while Uwe Muehln (GER) will be the assistant TD.
All proposals as well as the final race schedule will be announced at the FIS calendar conference in Portoroz, Slovenia June 1-5, 2011.
From Skiforbundet.no, April 12, 2011. By Claes-Tommy Herland, translation by Inge Scheve